Palma.—This year has already been declared the worst for the past 16 years for forest fires and the emergency services, some of which are holding daily meetings to keep abreast of the situation, fear it could get even worse.

For example, there have been 106 reported forest fires since the start of the year, that is five more than the total number of fires recorded in the whole of last year.

But, not only is the high number of fires causing serious concerns to the authorities, it is the vast expanse of woodland and countryside which is being destroyed.

Last year's 101 fires, torched just 610 hectares.
This year, the total area devastated by fire currently stands at 2'250 hectares.
Only in 1992 and 1994 were a few more hectares damaged, but again, that was over the course of the whole year and with this summer having been forecast to be longer and hotter than usual, the forest fire fighting operations may have to be extended.

The figures were provided yesterday by the Official Balearic College of Forestry Engineers and Technicians.
A spokesperson for the college said that simplest way of fighting fires is by trying to prevent them from starting.
But that is extremely difficult. There are units of spotters constantly patrolling black spots on the ground and from the air and fire fighting response and skills have improved significantly, but stopping them from happening, especially if arson is involved, is nearly impossible.

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